A few months ago, Shirley Katuuo experimented with the idea of launching her poultry farming. The idea was to rear chickens for eggs, which would then be sold locally to individual buyers and small shops.
Several months later, her idea has not only taken off but it has turned into a formidable agribusiness that continues to grow with each stride it takes.
Shirley’s Investments CC was born out of the need to put food on the table for the young University of Namibia graduate, who, despite graduating in 2014 with a qualification in accounting and auditing, had not been successful in landing a permanent job. She has since taken on further studies and is currently pursuing a qualification in education.
Studies put aside, the need to eking out a living was more pressing, and Katuuo had to activate crisis mode to solve the matter. Spurred on by motivational talks from various people on how the youth should create self-employment opportunities as opposed to looking for jobs, Katuuo decided it was time she became her boss and was able to determine her future through that.
“When our current governor Pijoo Nganate took office, he encouraged young people to always be on the lookout for self-employment opportunities, instead of relying on the already saturated job market for work. I took this challenge upon myself and decided to act on it,” Katuuo said.
Taking the bull by the horns, Katuuo late last year approached the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development for assistance, laying out her idea. She was chosen amongst a successful few to benefit from one of the ministry’s schemes.
“The ministry helped me buy my first chickens. According to their scheme, they pay 60% of the cost, while I put up the remaining 40%. This was helpful, as it helped me buy 30 chickens to kick-start my business,” Katuuo said.
Soon, the budding agripreuner added another 30 chickens to her flock, which placed her in a comfortable position to smoothly take off as an egg producer.
She runs her business from her home in Gobabis’ Epako residential area in the farming-prone Omaheke region.
Katuuo noted the traditional knowledge she had gained growing up has helped her a lot in her new venture as a chicken farmer and egg producer. From her Epako home, she has managed to convince nearby home shops to procure eggs from her business. She also supplies clients as far as Epukiro and other constituencies in the Omaheke region.
Although she has only been a few months in her agribusiness, Katuuo said she has even bigger dreams of growing her current business. For her, nothing is impossible if the correct approach is applied.
Her commitment to her chicken farming enterprise is unwavering; she wakes up as early as 05h00 to check on her chickens every day. Granted, she would not exchange them for anything, she said.
“I plan to some time, in the near future, venture into the broilers business, as my current flock would get past laying age and would have to be sold for meat. That would open the market for me as a broiler farmer. Nothing is impossible – one just has to plan and execute well to reach your goals,” said Katuuo.
Despite the positive growth prospects, Katuuo admitted the poultry business does have its fair share of challenges that one is called upon to navigate. On the top of the list is the high cost of chicken feed, which, if not managed well, could contribute to some huge losses for the farmer. Also, her business lacks decent infrastructure for the proper upkeep of her chickens. Without these structures, managing her chickens could be a cumbersome process. But she is not relenting; the idea is to start with what she has and slowly build herself up the ladder as resources permit.
“Yes, there are challenges. But nothing good comes without challenges. It is just a matter of how one manages such challenges. The challenges should not break you, as a farmer, but they should rather become a stepping stone onto bigger and better things,” said Katuuo.
She encouraged young women to stop relying on other people to support them, noting that it is better to start up something that can provide much-needed income.
“Start something that brings joy and money to both the community and yourself. Most importantly, do something that you love. You can start with the little you have and the rest will find you on the way. I did that, and I am reaping the results,” said Katuuo.